John Paul Vaccaro might sound like a character from The Sopranos, but he's even more important to the world of pop culture. Better known to the masses as Sonny Vaccaro, he has been critical to just about every major basketball sneaker movement over the past few decades. Kicking off deals for Michael Jordan at Nike, landing Kobe Bryant at adidas and the L.A. Lakers, and nearly convincing young LeBron James to sign with the Three Stripes as well. When you talk about the most influential people in sneakers, Sonny Vaccaro has to be mentioned in the same sentence as MJ, Tinker, LeBron, and every other iconic figure.
Name-dropping elite athletes is an easy way to grab people's attention but it goes much deeper than that. Vaccaro was instrumental in shaping how sneakers were marketed at almost every level of the game. From high school basketball All-Americans to major collegiate relationships, Sonny was the godfather of sneaker deals in sports culture. It was his insight to find raw talent at a young age and get in their inner-circle that allowed him to be one of the most impactful personalities in the industry.
This is his story.